Monthly Archives: June 2012


It’s the last day of June, the last day of pride month, and I’m feeling reflective.Rainbow flag

I generally like June. Usually the hot weather hasn’t really started to wear on me yet and I’m still enjoying it. There are bright colors and rainbows all over, which are far too rare in my opinion. And of course there are parades and social activism events, which are usually fun.

I write a lot about the rights (or lack thereof) of people who aren’t hetero-normative (which is hard to type so I’m going to use “gay” in an absurdly broad, inclusive definition for the rest of this post). The reasons for this are many and varied, and frankly kind of tedious. When you really boil it all down, I think people should be happy, or at the very least have a fair chance at happiness, no matter who they are, and I often read really horrible words, deeds and legislation which all seem to have the sole purpose of making gay people miserable, so I write about it.

This isn’t about anything specific. This is just musing on why it’s called Pride, why it’s about pride. I realize that in many ways I’ve been fortunate, the recipient of a lot of social privilege, and that to a large degree I don’t really know what I’m talking about here. I can only listen and hope that my imagination and empathy haven’t led me astray. I hope that I get it.

“Pride” is a common theme in oppressed groups, but especially the gay community. Read the rest of this entry

“unable to give their consent”

So you may have heard a while back that a German court ruled that the circumcision of infants was child abuse. Brendan O’Neill has apparently decided that the only reason for this decision could have been anti-Jewish bigotry, and that bigotry came from atheists.

I’m going to quote the part of O’Neill’s article that made me feel a need to address it, I have more to say on the matter but really this is the primary point, the main idea, the one thing that I want an answer to.

There are many bad things about the modern atheistic assault on religion. But perhaps the worst thing is its rebranding of certain religious practices as “child abuse”. Everything from sending your kid to a Catholic school to having your baby boy circumcised has been redefined by anti-religious campaigners as “abuse”. This use of emotionally loaded language to demonise the practices and beliefs of people of faith has reached its ugly and logical conclusion in Germany, where a court has decreed that circumcision for religious purposes causes “bodily harm”, against boys who are “unable to give their consent”, and therefore should be outlawed.

See the quotes there on the part about consent? I want someone to tell me how an infant gives consent. Heck, the court case was about a four year old boy from a Muslim family, tell me how a four year old gives legal consent.

I notice you also put quotes around “bodily harm”. See the thing is, Brendan (may I call you Brendan?), when you use quotes like that it looks like you’re disputing the words used. So this paragraph suggests that you think:

  1. Cutting off a foreskin is not bodily harm, and
  2. Children, including newborn infants, are capable of giving consent.

I really want an explanation of this. Seriously, no bullshit. Use small words because I’m kind of stupid. How is this not causing harm without consent? O’Neill never explains this, he just goes on to say that people who did terrible things to the Jews in history also called circumcision barbaric child abuse. In other news, a stopped clock is right twice a day, Hitler ate sugar, and an association fallacy really isn’t worth stretching into five paragraphs.

That’s the meat of this post. Frankly you can skip the rest if you want because from here on out it’s mostly just shouting. With lots of wine, so it’s not even coherent.  Read the rest of this entry

Though my soul may set in darkness…

It’s often tempting for me to cheat on this blog.

When I wrote the rules, I knew that I would have trouble writing something original and whole every day, and I knew that sometimes I wouldn’t be able to do it. I deliberately made it easy for me to fulfill the letter of the rules if I had a day where the spirit of the blog was beyond me, because that would only feel like half a failure and be far less demoralizing to me.

This unnecessarily long introduction is my way to keeping the spirit of this blog, of writing more and stretching my ability to write, active and alive on a day when I really just want to post other people’s stuff that I think is cool. Now that I’ve done that, here’s one of my favorite poems, The Old Astronomer by Sarah Williams.

Reach me down my Tycho Brahe, I would know him when we meet,
When I share my later science, sitting humbly at his feet;
He may know the law of all things, yet be ignorant of how
We are working to completion, working on from then to now.

Pray remember that I leave you all my theory complete,
Lacking only certain data for your adding, as is meet,
And remember men will scorn it, ’tis original and true,
And the obliquy of newness may fall bitterly on you.

But, my pupil, as my pupil you have learned the worth of scorn,
You have laughed with me at pity, we have joyed to be forlorn,
What for us are all distractions of men’s fellowship and smiles;
What for us the Goddess Pleasure with her meretricious smiles.

You may tell that German College that their honor comes too late,
But they must not waste repentance on the grizzly savant’s fate.
Though my soul may set in darkness, it will rise in perfect light;
I have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night.

MRI birth

This is pretty cool, a human birth seen through magnetic resonance imaging. Shame it’s so short, it cuts out just as it gets interesting!

Anyone else get a sore neck in sympathy? No wonder babies are so squishy.

Texas Republicans want your kids to be stupid.

I really wish that were hyperbole. Here’s a video of some guy ranting about it.

And here’s a link to the Texas Freedom Network’s analysis. And here’s a link to a PDF of the platform itself.

Check this out,

Controversial Theories – We support objective teaching and equal treatment of all sides of scientific theories. We believe theories such as life origins and environmental change should be taught as challengeable scientific theories subject to change as new data is produced. Teachers and students should be able to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of these theories openly and without fear of retribution or discrimination of any kind.

Except students won’t be able to discuss the strengths and weaknesses because two paragraphs later they oppose the teaching of critical thinking skills. So what does this actually come down to?

A phrase I’ve often heard in discussions of education is “Teach kids how to think, not what to think.” Critical thinking skills is, of course, the biggest part of that and the Texas GOP has now convinced me that we should have critical thinking exercises in fucking preschool.

I have nothing more to say here, it’s just blown my mind that people could advance this as a public policy platform and not be instantly laughed out of politics forever.

Space Legends

I can’t seem to remember how I wound up browsing Surly Amy’s Etsy store yesterday. Probably someone dropped a link on a blog and I middle-clicked then kept reading, so that by the time I looked at the link I’d lost the association.

Anyway, while I was looking through the wearable ceramic art, I saw this “Space Day of the Dead Skull”

which is pretty neat all by itself, but it reminded me of this Freefall comic in which the colonists celebrate “Arrival Day”, also known as the “Day of the Dead”. This would be the perfect accessory to wear during that festival.

In Freefall Arrival Day is the anniversary of the day the colony ship arrived at the planet. Because the hibernation technology they use to sleep away the long space voyage isn’t perfect, not all the colonists survived the trip, hence the Day of the Dead. It’s a chilling thought to imagine waking up and wondering who didn’t make it.

I like the line “I thought spirits could follow helium trails through interstellar space”. A superstition Florence Ambrose takes for granted which is not universally accepted on the colony world, where one of the purposes of the Day of the Dead festival is to serve as a beacon to call home the souls of those who died in the deep silence between stars. It’s a very human thing, finding ways to comfort ourselves and each other in the face of sorrow and loss.

And it’s interesting to ponder what sort of superstitions might gain hold in the public consciousness in the future. We’re living in a time of change, our technology is rapidly advancing and bringing together the various cultures of the world like never before. There’s really no way to tell what myths and legends might emerge from that fusion of ideas, but it’s fun to speculate and I wish more science fiction would do so.

It’s not only a fun creative exercise, but it leads to richer, more human feeling fictional cultures, even when those cultures are made up of robots and aliens. It permeates the tone and language of the setting, giving it a unique identity. I like that in my fiction.

I suppose that’s all I have to say for the moment, so until next time may the Force be with you.

Sugar Rainbow!

Ok, I mostly just wanted to post this picture, because I think it’s awesome.

Incidentally, should Oreo decide to market six-layer rainbow Pride Oreos I will totally buy some. And probably make myself sick eating all that sugar, but still!

Buzzfeed has this post highlighting some comments from people who are upset about this image.

There’s something comical about the idea of boycotting a cookie, but reading the comments it quickly stops being funny. Once more I’m left puzzled by how important treating the gays like shit seems to be to some people.

Captain of My Soul

Sometimes when we’re feeling weak, we need a reminder how strong we can be. In that vein, I present to you Invictus, by William Ernest Henley.

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

Oh yeah? Well I’ll just sue EVERYBODY!

This is what I get for thinking I could take time off to enjoy myself. I leave the internet for a week and nearly miss one of the most impressive lawsuits ever filed. And by “impressive” I mean “stupid”.

You may recall Charles Carreon as the lawyer who sent a ridiculous threat of legal action to a webcartoonist a couple of weeks ago. The situation has escalated since. (All of Popehat’s posts on this case can be found at this tag search.) Carreon has actually filed suit against:

  1. Matthew Inman, the cartoonist,
  2., the site Inman is using to collect the funds,
  3. the two named charities, the National Wildlife Federation and the American Cancer Society, and
  4. up to 100 unknown people, presumably he’ll fill in the names as he discovers them.

Yes, he’s really suing the charities. He doesn’t actually say why in his complaint, it just trails off near the end of paragraph 6, like he couldn’t think of anything and intended to go back and add a reason later.  Read the rest of this entry

…and we’re back!

I’ve returned from my camping trip alive and whole. Didn’t even get a tick, at least not that I’ve found yet. Trying to catch up on email and news and laundry. Lots of laundry. Hopefully posting more soon, stay tuned!


I’m heading out to the wild, wild wilderness for the week. Next post won’t be until Saturday at the soonest.

Have a great week everyone!

Girl legislators probably have cooties

From The Detroit News:

“What she said was offensive,” said Rep. Mike Callton, R-Nashville. “It was so offensive, I don’t even want to say it in front of women. I would not say that in mixed company.”

Oh my, what could state Rep. Lisa Brown have said Wednesday to so offend Mike Callton that she was forbidden to speak as this awful piece of legislation was discussed Thursday? Well, this:

Finally, Mr. Speaker, I’m flattered that you’re all so interested in my vagina, but ‘no’ means ‘no,’

Although the article doesn’t specify, presumably after she said this Rep. Callton screwed up his face and cried “EEEeeeewww!”

If you can’t discuss complex issues using grown-up words, you really have no business working in government.

Too hot to sleep, write, or think. But there must be search terms!

So it’s the fifteenth again, time to take a look at the search engine queries that lead people to my blog. Haven’t been feeling up to much writing lately, I think the heat’s been roasting my mind. Plus most of the stuff that I feel I have something to say about is really, really depressing.

Anyway, let’s get this done. As usual, the search terms are bold while my commentary is italic. Read the rest of this entry

Why I’m in a bad mood tonight

I’d planned for my dinner: salad, ice cream, and wine.
A simple idea that made me feel fine.
But the wine rack was empty, I say to my sorrow.
The soonest I’ll have more won’t be til tomorrow.

So I finished my salad, checked the freezer with glee,
and saw that no ice cream had been left for me.
Now I am grumpy, my plans all have failed,
but at least this verse rhymes! So in that I prevailed.

Funny Junk Lawyer

So here’s a thing. In brief, a lawyer representing the FunnyJunk website sent a letter to cartoonist  Matthew Inman (of the Oatmeal fame) threatening a defamation lawsuit if Inman doesn’t pay $20,000. This is in response to a blog post Inman wrote a year ago in which he pointed out that a lot of his cartoons were on FunnyJunk without attribution or a link or anything.

Inman has responded by start a charity fundraiser and scribbling an insulting cartoon. It’s pretty awesome, really.

But what gets me is how the lawyer, one Charles Carreon, is reacting. From Digital Life at MSNBC:

[Carreon] also explains that he believes Inman’s fundraiser to be a violation of the terms of service of IndieGoGo, the website being used to collect donations, and has sent a request to disable the fundraising campaign.

Fucking hell. That’s what you want to do, now that the public is watching, you want to try to shut down the charity drive? You’re supposed to be representing your client, remember? This is shooting your client and yourself in the metaphorical feet by making you both look like giant assholes. It looks like a petulant scream of “If I can’t have it no one can!” at best.

Here’s the Wikipedia page on the Streisand effect. It’s something lawyers need to take into account these days. Carreon’s actions are doing far more damage to FunnyJunk’s reputation than  Inman could have possibly done, because he’s doing it with their sanction, in their name.

I’m not a lawyer myself, nor well-versed in the ways of law, but as I understand things right now it seems FJ would have a much better defamation case against their own lawyer than against the Oatmeal.

Share and enjoy

This should be the first post to be auto-shared on Tumblr, which means I’ll finally be using Tumblr for something. I never quite worked out what to do with it, really.

Since I’m sharing things, here’s an Etsy shop you should check out. Go buy something. In fact, read this blog post and figure out a way to help RC Murphy, because she’s awesome. While you’re there, read some of her stories so that you’ll understand why she’s awesome. (Although she is responsible for Aksel, so clearly she’s far from perfect.)

That’s it for now, I may have something of substance up soon, or maybe not. My internet is being unreliable and it’s so frustrating to deal with I’m tempted to walk away and do something useful with my time instead. Bleh.

A journey

I’d planned to post a lot more this weekend, but I got a little distracted by Uru Live. That’s the online Myst game that started in 2003 and has been canceled, uncanceled, recanceled, restarted, released as open source (at least partially) and is currently free to play and surviving on donations. Most of the time I was at a computer this weekend I was exploring the mysterious remnants of the D’ni civilization.

I guess I should say something more. Uh, if you liked the Myst games, you’ll probably like this. Figuring out how to work the machines is always fun for me. There are a few puzzles that require manipulating objects, which is made unnecessarily hard by the fact that the game doesn’t let you pick them up and put them down. Seriously, you’re trying to assemble a makeshift bridge by kicking things along. That’s pretty maddening.

I haven’t messed with the multiplayer side of it at all yet. Haven’t been feeling like meeting new people. That’s all I’ve got for now. Have a good night.

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